Words Sarah Proietti. As told to Amy Spanton
My bartending career started 11 years ago when I started to work at Shake cocktail bar in Rovellasca in Italy. I was working as a waitress and at the time I was still in high school studying business management and not sure what I really wanted to do in life. Hospitality wasn’t an option till then.
I’ve been living in Australia and working in the bar industry for the last six years. Most recently I was bar manager at Merivale’s J&M whisky bar. Amazing work experience that allowed me to develop skills, product knowledge and creativity. After two years working in J&M I felt it was the right time for a fresh start and why not try in my favourite cocktail bar?
While I was working at Shake, I also started to work in an office. I felt so anxious thinking that I was going to do such a boring job for the rest of my life, while working in a bar the time was flying and it was so much fun with lots of challenges at the same time. I remember saying “I want to be a bartender!” to Giorgio Tagliabue my mentor and owner of Shake. He said: “Change jobs Sarah! Bartending is not only the show you see there is so much hard work behind it”. He was right. I was so inspired by his dedication, love and passion for bartending, so I enrolled in the AIBES bartender school, and started exploring the bar world.
I love bartending because I love taking care of people. I love to provide an experience through flavours and make guests feel special. I love the fact that at the end of the day it is tiring as much as rewarding. It is just so good to work in a happy atmosphere where people are having fun and you can meet anyone from anywhere. In hospo we have such a big responsibility of taking care of other people’s time off especially when time has so much value.
Working in J&M opened the doors to the whisky/ey world which I became obsessed with, but also creative part of cocktails making allowed me to experiment with combinations of new flavours and ingredients. But in all honesty what I love to do the most is to tell stories to my guests and make everyone feel welcome.
I’m extremely excited for this new chapter and the opportunity to work at Maybe Sammy with such a talented team. It is not only the fact that they are leaders in our industry, but I absolutely love the enthusiasm and love and care in every single detail. The atmosphere is incredible and the interaction with the guests is just pure magic. I believe that the people you surround yourself with will have a massive impact in your life, and I feel very inspired and grateful to be able to learn from the best.
The COVID experience was pretty scary, being so far from home, there was lots of fears and uncertainty about the future and simple things like if and when I was able to hug my family again, or what was going to happen to my international team members. I’ve been here for six year and I’m still considered a “temporary visa” (which means not having any support) has been a bit sad, however I decided to focus on the positive. I found myself in a good financial situation thanks a bit of savings, despite the situation back home in Italy my family is healthy, and I felt extremely blessed. For the first time in my life I find myself with lots of free time and I felt life was telling me to take a step back and slow down, and that’s what I did. I rested, reset, and started to enjoy the little things which we miss in our busy hospo routine. I decided to take care of myself, of my house and I did adopt a dog which made my lockdown so much more fun.
Opening up and going back to work was extremely emotional and it has been a bit challenging to go back and engage with guests trying avoiding chats about COVID. But is also amazing to see everyone appreciate so much more having bars open and just the fact to be together, of course with social distancing!
2020 has been an incredible year, very challenging for all of us, but I also believe that is for people that know how to adapt and know how to reinvent themselves. We work in an amazing industry where we’re lucky to have such a strong community where everyone helps and inspires each other. The future ahead might be hard, but we’ll get through it, if we focus in the good, good will come and once again I feel extremely blessed where I’m at the moment and the future ahead. I dare you 2020!